Unlike last time, Gilas won't have element of surprise in 2019 Fiba World Cup

Unlike last time, Gilas won't have element of surprise in 2019 Fiba World Cup

MANILA, Philippines—Five years ago, the Philippines caught basketball heavyweights off guard in the Fiba World Cup.

And with the rest of the world now aware of what Gilas Pilipinas is capable of, the Nationals won’t have the element of surprise working into their favor this time in China.

“We know we’re not gonna surprise anybody anymore. We’ve demanded respect in the last World Cup,” said team captain Gabe Norwood.

“That’s going to be a big factor. Gabe already told us about it that we’re not going to have that advantage of surprising anyone that’s why we need to be prepared and focused,” said guard Paul Lee in Filipino. “The other teams are already looking at us.”

Norwood and Lee were part of the squad that competed in the 2014 World Cup in Spain where the country beat Senegal and gave the likes of Croatia, Argentina and Puerto Rico a run for their money.

Gilas, which is grouped with Serbia, Italy and Angola, faces another tall order needing two wins to advance into the next round.

But despite being against all odds, Gilas is up for the task.

“At the end of the day, teams are gonna come in and try to run their stuff and we gotta make them feel uncomfortable. I think that is something that we’re capable of,” Norwood said.

“We’re tying to make everybody understand that we deserve to be there. This is no fluke. We earned our right to be in the World Cup just like any other team there and I think that once we embrace that, understand that we’ll play with a sense of freedom and confidence that got us in that situation.”